Cole Hardware Hotline Online
 recycle  ‘Styrofoam’ recycling

    Properly disposing of expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) is an issue eventually each of us must face. EPS is most commonly (and inaccurately) known as ‘Styrofoam,’ which is actually a brand of home insulation trademarked by Dow Chemical.

    Throwing EPS into the garbage means adding it to a landfill. Cole Hardware recommends the following solutions for you to properly dispose of EPS:


    Reusing EPS saves considerably more energy and resources than recycling does. Use pieces for light-weight drainage in planters (see below). Save it for future packaging needs. Electronic devices are best shipped or moved in their original EPS packaging and box.

    Pass it on to an individual or company that can use it for packaging. Nearly 30% of all polystyrene loose fill (sometimes called 'peanuts' because of their shape) is used again. For mailing services, the reuse rate of loose fill is as high as 50%.

    To find a local business that will reuse your packing peanuts, search at Plastic Loose Fill Council or Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. Or call the Peanut Hotline at 800/828-2214. (Always call ahead to confirm peanuts are being accepted at that time.)


    If you can't reuse it, don’t throw it away. EPS can be recycled into new packaging. Before you drop off your EPS, please follow these simple EPS recycling etiquette guidelines:
  • Drop off only EPS that is clean, dry and uncontaminated with other materials.
  • Remove any foreign materials such as tape, stickers, labels, paint and cardboard.
  • Contain the EPS in a bag, bundle or box for easy loading and unloading.
  • Make sure the material is actually EPS -- it looks like a composite of small white beads. If you have any doubt, call before dropping it off.
    In the Bay Area:

    FP International
    1050 Broadway Street
    Redwood City, CA

    Free-Flow Packaging International (FP International) recycles EPS at five locations across the United States. The Bay Area location is 1050 Broadway, Redwood City 94063. They accept ONLY baled EPS that can be offloaded directly into their building, by appointment only. (NO loose, bagged or stacked EPS.) Call 650-364-0162 or 800-888-9946 for a delivery appointment.

    See or contact Debby Hill at 1-800-304-7805, ext. 5385 ( for more information.

    EPS can be baled in any baler, even those currently used for corrugated or other paper. Or you can have it baled at

    GB Industrial
    1528 Atlantic Street
    Union City, CA 94587

    GB Industrial also accepts will take clean plastic loosefill (packing peanuts) -- not printed on or dyed -- in bags and CD Cases/Jewel Boxes for recycling. Call 510-489-0881.

If there is no EPS recycling available in your city, here are some options:
  • Take your packing peanuts down to your neighborhood mailing outlet. (ALWAYS telephone ahead before dropping off your peanuts!)
  • Gather together a large amount of EPS from neighbors to make the trip to a drop-off location worthwhile.
  • While you're at it, give a call to your district representative and ask for an EPS recycling program for your city! (San Francisco's contact information is available at
  • The San Francisco Department of the Environment web page is

    Put packing ‘peanuts,’ about four inches deep in a large pot, then cover them with landscape fabric. Fill the rest of the pot with soil and plant roses or hibiscus. This is wonderful drainage for these large plants and keeps the pot from being so heavy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (tip from reader Ethel H.,

    Use packing peanuts or pieces of EPS for light-weight drainage in the bottom of hanging planters.

    Click here to find more Quick Tips!

- Hardware Hotline  November, 2003